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Chord Substitutions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Sep 3, 2002.


  1. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Hello, I was wondering if anyone knew of any websites or resources that fully explain chord substitutions.

    Thank you. :)
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    FULLY explain? That's a mighty tall order. What is it that you want to know? If you have any specific questions, you might be able to get some specific help. What style(s) of music are you talking about?
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yeah, I'd like to fully understand chord substitutions too! ;)

    Sorry if I'm telling you stuff you already know (or if it's total rubbish!!)

    The example that springs to mind is a dominant tritone substitution, eg. replace G7 (G,B,F) with C#7 (C#,F,B).
    Those two chords share 2 tones out of 3 and I believe this is a substitution used commonly in jazz(?), however the intervals are different and I can't describe a context where this might work!

    Anyway, it's all about context (as is everything), you need to know what you're doing to harmony by making a particular substitution, even by just changing the root you play beneath a chord.

    You can learn a lot about these by playing a simple progression and different chords to see what happens. Something I need/want to do a lot more of myself!!

    I don't understand much more than that and I certainly can't explain it any better.
    As Chris says, a more specific question/example might help, I'm sure Chris, Ed F, or one of the other more established bassists on here can set you on the right direction.

    Oh and get a teacher. It'll be the best decision you ever made for your playing :)
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    What you're referring to there is that in a 7th chord, the tones which give it its "sound" are the 3rd and the 7th - so you can use an alternative chord which has the same 3rd and 7th but switched around, so the 3rd becomes the 7th and vice versa - well this is a simple way to think about it!
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    That's the baby, the 3rd & 7th make up the tritone.

    Thing is if you arpeggiate those chords the intervals become different and will give a different sound in context... my brain hurts!
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well it is often a "Jazzy" sound - so like normal 12 bar blues can have altered chords and the more you alter the more it sounds like Jazz and less like Blues! ;)

    Not exactly the same tack, but anyway. I think that idea came about because Jazz soloists were looking for alternative scales to play over chords - so they choose a scale which has the 3rd and 7th of the chord and find that it sounds alright if you swap the 3rd and 7th - of course it sounds "Jazzy" and wouldn't work in all sorts of music - e.g. folk!! ;)

    But then I suppose pianists caught on to what the soloist was doing and thought - well I could play a chord based on that alternate scale, rather than the one written - seeing as how I've been round this sequence 5,000 times and it would be nice to try some different stuff!

    And thus was Jazz born - once you get into this kind of stuff you will only want to play Jazz, as it doesn't happen so much in other types of music! ;)
     
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    "Freddie The Freeloader" is a 12 bar blues with very minor alterations on the first ending but no alterations on the second ending and no one would argue that it's Jazz because it's the improvisation and the style in which it's played that make it jazz more so than the chord progression itself.

    What would you call a hip hop back beat, thumping slap bass, improvised lyrics sung over the changes to "All The Things You Are"?
     
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Sounds cool, where can I get a copy?
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    "Smooth Jazz".
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No - they would have simplified it to a two-chord vamp ! ;)
     
  11. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Yeah, like "So What", right? ;)

    Smooth Jazz? I don't know, here's an excerpt of the type of thing I'm talking about.
     
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It is considerably harder to play something interesting on a two chord vamp than over complex changes.

    With a "static harmony" situation, like a lot of two chord vamps, it is up to the soloist to completely create tension and release. With more complex changes, the tension and release come more naturally.
     
  13. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Thanks this thread has been most helpful. (I found an awesome site dealing with chord subs)

    I'm definatley interested in a teacher Howard, I've been playing for 6 years, and I've come to the point where I want to progress into more advanced stuff like jazz, and well, I guess a teacher would be the best way to go.

    My main question is though, if I were playing a walking line under a chord progression, chord I use chord subsitions bymyself, well the piano plays the song straight, as it's written, or would the main chordal instrument have to be playing the subs also, so it doesn't come out sounding dissonant.

    Hope I don't sound to much like a goober with that question. :p
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It depends on what you're playing, what substitutions you plan on using, and who you're playing with. If you use a tritone sub on a minor ii-V-i, it usually doesn't matter, since both chords share the same basic tonality and the same voicing usually works for both, as in this thread:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11726

    However, if you do the same thing unannounced in the middle of a Major ii-V-I, the root note of your tritone sub introduces a new note into the tonality (specifically, the b2 of the parent key), which either the pianist or soloist (or both) will have to adjust to. There are a few other subs that don't affect the pianist too much, like the old "Major for minor" sub (ex. Gmi7/Bb = BbMa9), but it's best if you don't just drop reharm bombs all over the place without any warning, especially if the people you are playing with don't have the aural/technical facility to catch and/or react to what you're doing.
     
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well, since that excerpt only contained a basic i-bVII-bVI chord progression, I'd call it R&B. If it used the changes to "All the Things", I'd call it "Smooth Jazz". But that's just me....
     
  16. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Jazz isn't a chord progression, the what and the how that's played over a progression is Jazz.
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Exactly my point. Smooth Jazz = R&B style over jazz changes, hence the "smooth". I'd only give the nod to the word "jazz" in the title because ATTYA is a jazz standard. But to my very bucholic ears, that excerpt was what I'd call R&B. All it needs is BOYZ TO MEN IN THE HOOD singing, "Baby, I'm so sorry I ****ed that other girl, she don't mean nothin' to me, please take me back". :D
     
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    It already has that, but not by Boyz To Men, it's a and excerpt of a cover of a tune called Ms Jackson by the rap group Outkast. Technically it isn't R&B, in the way that Swing isn't Bop.

    I'm starting a new thread for this discussion.
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - the most respected authority on "what is Jazz?" that I know is Mark Levine's "Jazz Theory Book". So - all the Jazz tutors I know have recommended it and a lot of people on here as well.

    BUt if you read through it, it is nothing more than an introduction to chords, chord changes and functional harmony, followed by chord substitutions and re-harmonising a sequence - like Coltrane changes.

    So I mentioned about the Blues - so a Blues with lots of altered chords and substitutions is commonly called a "Jazz Blues" and what most of the Jazz greats did in their tunes was to take the Blues and things like Rhythm changes and change the chords to make it all sound "Jazzier" - they Jazzed it up!

    You mentioned about the way people play - but this is basically down to note choice - finding scales that fit the chords or if you like playing extensions to the chords, that sound "Jazzier" !

    It is all about the chords and theri function in the harmony - this sound was adopted by some 20th Century composers working in the classical area and you can clearly hear the Jazz sound, no matter who plays those works - so like Rhapsody in Blue always sounds Jazzy whether it is the Moscow or London Symphony orchestra!
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree totally - that is why most Smooth Jazz is soporific and bland, while Miles's "So What" has incredible contrasts and lots of ideas.

    But "Modal" Jazz exemplified by "Kind of Blue" was just a short period in Jazz History and the vast majority is characterised by finding new chords, new sequences, re-harmonising sequences and finding new scales/note choices.

    So Coltrane, who was involved in KoB went on to invent his own differnet re-harmonisations of chord sequences straight after this - modal Jazz was just a brief stopping point for him in a career that was characterised more by complex harmonic ideas.
     

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